Man in the middle
LARAMIE – Javaree Jackson isn’t worried about the depth at the defensive tackle position.
He said you shouldn’t be either.
All we have is the Wyoming junior’s word. There sure isn’t
any proof to speak of anywhere else.
Aside from Jackson, these are the defensive tackles on the Cowboys 2019 roster: Akili Bonner (freshman), Claude Cole (redshirt freshman), Cole Godbout (redshirt freshman), Alonzo Hall (freshman), Victor Jones (sophomore), Justis Borton (junior) and Mario Mora (redshirt freshman).
Guess how many starts they have between them?
Only Barton and Jones have a tackle under their belts.
Well, sort of.
Jones finished with 15 tackles in 11 games, while Borton
secured an assist in two games during the 2018 campaign.
Jackson said the toughest part about losing starter Ravontae Holt during Monday’s practice was watching a friend go through the agony of an ACL tear, his second since coming to UW in 2017. It had nothing to do with depth or experience on the defensive line.
Jackson said in one bad twist of fate – literally – he went
from fellow lineman and friend to a sort of grief counselor.
“It was pretty tough seeing that,” Jackson said. “He had so
many goals that he wanted to achieve this year. Going down with a knee again
just pushed them back another year. He was really looking forward to this
season. We talked about it every day.”
Jackson said he was able to spend some time with Holt in the
trainer’s room after practice Monday afternoon.
“He said he heard another pop,” Jackson said of Holt’s season-ending
injury. “When I saw him, I told him to keep his head up. I told him, ‘God has a
plan for you. Don’t quit. Keep pushing.’ This just leaves him another year to
Holt, a 6-foot, 4-inch, 272-pounder from Sacramento, played
in all 12 games for the Cowboys last season. He recorded 31 tackles and 1.5
tackles for loss. He also caused a fumble and recovered one.
Jackson, a Wauwatosa, Wisc., product, appeared in Wyoming’s
final seven games of the season after coming back from a bruised PCL in his
knee and offseason back surgery. The 6-foot, 5-inch, 276-pound lineman racked
up 12 tackles and a pass breakup. His best performance came in the season
finale in Albuquerque where he recorded five tackles against the Lobos.
Jackson knows he is the leader of this group now.
So, is he just spinning a yarn about the Pokes being solid
up the middle?
“I feel confident in these young guys,” he said. “I see them
work every day. They try to get better every day. When their time comes up,
they will be ready. I believe in them. We will see what these next two weeks
are about -- see who can play. See who’s ready.”
As part of his leadership role, Jackson said he has the ear of defensive tackles coach, Pete Kaligis.
“I can put in a word,” Jackson said. “I can tell coach if a
guy is ready or not. Tell him if we need to go on to the next guy.”
No one knows who the next guy will be yet. The Cowboys have
a very important scrimmage Saturday afternoon to determine who has the upper hand
on being Jackson’s linemate in the middle.
“Javaree is an experienced player,” Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said post-practice Wednesday. “He’s going to need to play more and get more repetition. We are going to have to have one of the younger guys step up. Typically, we play four defensive tackles, so losing Rovantae the whole year is a loss, but it’s part of football … Other guys have to pick up the pace.”
Can Jackson handle the workload that is surely coming his
He didn’t hesitate.
“I will do whatever it takes to help the team,” he said. “I’m
always up for challenges. I’m just going to do whatever it takes to make this
Missouri returns three starting offensive linemen from its 2018 squad, including junior center Trystan Colon-Castillo and senior right guard Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms. Those guys lineup at 6-foot, 4-inches and 315 pounds and 6-foot, 5-inches and 330 pounds, respectively.
Jackson, once again, didn’t flinch.
Last season, Jackson missed the Missouri game. He stood on
the sideline that day in Columbia in full uniform. His injuries, his coaches
suggested, needed one more week to heal. It was painful for Jackson to watch.
On opening day, he will be right in the middle of the
“I’m very excited. I’ve been waiting for this since the end
of spring,” he said of facing the Tigers Aug. 31 at War Memorial Stadium. “We
are going to be put in situations to win.”